Aqua Planing (2005)

In the enigmatic Aqua Planing, Werner Durand and Alio Die create a sonorous, powerful, impervious space; sometimes liquid, subtly endearing. A meeting of mysterious sounds, both improvised and organised, of the traditional and self-made wind- instruments and their hybrids by Werner Durand (persian and circular water ney, circular  clarinet, khen, prepared shakuhachi) with the editing, loops and enviromental recordings by Alio Die. As in the title track, where they recorded the sound of the wind blowing on the edge of a PVC tube sticking out of the car window, while driving on an italian highway and mixed it with the sound of the ocean, filtered acoustically by the very same PVC tube, or the noise of a night train, the church bells in a mountain village, the musicians cause you to loose tracks of home and move towards purely surreal places. Their performance is always rigorous, the accurate tunings accuracy and special timbres of Werner Durand`s playing settled in the peculiar atmospheres created by Alio Die evoke unique interwoven listening spaces, rich with hues and shades, continuously evolving.

Label press

Two veteran explorers of ambient drone-land don their pith helmets and head off together into the steaming jungle. At night they camp and stare into the undergrowth, wondering what is staring back at them. Alio Die, aka Stefano Musso, is based in Milan and has run the Hic Sunt Leones label since 1992. Werner Durand builds his own buzzing flutes and whistling reeds, inspired by traditional instruments, and is responsible for the beautiful Ashtayama project with Dhrupad singer Amelia Cuni.
Aqua Planing casts Musso mainly as manipulator of field recordings, while Durand plays mystery woodwind, from circular clarinet to water ney. However the aim is not playing as such, so much as layering a series of warm, enveloping soundscapes. There's a reassuring, wraparound quality to much of this, like soaking in a forest pool while Durand's flickering flutes dance like dragonflies. On the title track the low flute drone was achieved by mounting a PVC tube out of a car window and driving across Italy. Knowing this is a distraction the piece improves once you stop thinking about Italian motorways. The rather literally titled 'Night Train To Bangkok' has a recording made inside a bed on a Thai train, while Durand's khen mouth organ hovers outside the window. The two best tracks feature more recordings from Thailand: opener 'Luftspiegelungen' has an attractive early morning feel, while closer 'Ghost' is set in a forest after dark.
In a sense Aqua Planing is exotica: a straight-faced reworking of Martin Denny's monkeys-in-the-jungle for the chill out generation. It's also an ambitious, thoughtful attempt to create soundscapes where the imagination can roam. With the exception of the over-dense, over-long title track, it improves steadily on repeated listens.

Clive Bell / WIRE Magazine

The recent collaboration with Werner Durand, ‘Aqua Planing’, is the culmination of seven years of work finalized two years ago. As indicated by the order of appearnce on the cover, this is Durand´s album more than Alio Die´s. Field recordings made in Thailand and ambient loops and drones created in the Milan studio make up the foundation of the album, upon which bed rises the exotic winds of Durand - Laotian khene, Persian ney, Japanese shakuhachi and homemade reeds, including the "circular clarinet" and "circular water ney".
A more atonal, at times even shrill tone, especially the seventeen-minute long centrepiece title track, with its various drawn out windnotes crossing and recrossing one another.
As usual when it come to any soundworld Alio Die is visiting, there is always more than you would expect going on in both the fore- and backgrounds on each of these five extended pieces. While you might be charmed and lulled to rest by the sense of alpine spaciousness offered by ‘La grotta nella valle domenicata’ - it sounds like a grand maze of mountain valleys reverberating with the clang of distant village churchbells and alpine horns - open your ears a little more and much more will reveal itself. An odd travelogue. And a strong effort.

Excellent record combining interesting and unusual field recordings with droney and scrapey improv, which is always a winning formula. Durand is the German experimenter whom we last heard making humming bee-like noises with his plastic tubes on The Art of Buzzing (Excuse the Delay), whilst wearing a black-and-yellow stripey jumper. Here, he plays a Persian ney, a clarinet, a Khen and a Shakuhachi flute, while Alio Die (ie the Italian environmental recordist Stefano Musso)
contributes playback of field recordings made in Thailand and Italy. Finished results are beautiful, everything coming out airy and spacey. 'Luftspiegelungen' - literally, a 'mirroring of the air' - conveys the sense of an eerie swamp filled with insects, while 'Night Train to Bangkok' stirs the traveller's bones with its sounds of slow-moving railway shunts. By the time of 'Aqua Planing' it's fairly clear that each artiste is doing at least two or three things by way of overdubbing, and we have a soaring watery drone of delight. The 12-minute 'La Grotta nella Valle Dimenticata' is stunningly beautiful, a heady mix of church bells, water sounds, and general mystical ambience from a sacred or secret location, an emotional bond which has somehow been captured onto tape in a way Chris Watson would approve. This track adds a genuinely metaphysical dimension to the CD, an exploration of time, space and memory, but the wonderful 'Ghost' track is equally profound. This release has a fairly wishy-washy cover, but it's a fantastic piece of sound art.

Ed Pinsent / The Sound Projector 15th Issue 2007